The death of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher brought back memories of the marathon talks between China and Britain over the handover of Hong Kong that took place during her term in office. But also, more importantly, it reminded us that the willingness to find common ground through rational dialogue is always the key to success in resolving differences, a proven guiding principle that applies as much to international diplomacy as to local politics.
Without the good faith of both Beijing and London to settle their differences over Hong Kong’s future at the negotiating table, the eventual conclusion of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the Basic Law, and even the peaceful and orderly handover of Hong Kong in 1997, would not have been possible.
In my view, the present political gridlock in Hong Kong over the arrangements for the 2017 chief executive election is largely rooted in the uncompromising attitudes among the conflicting sides across our political spectrum.
The recent threat made by a few academics and politicians to paralyse Central, or the so-called Occupy Central action, is by no means a sensible option to facilitate a successful negotiation process.
Moreover, this tactic, once it has been implemented, will not be in the public interest because the majority of our law-abiding citizens are unlikely to approve of any politically motivated act that is intended to cause social disorder. I respect freedom of expression, but not at the expense of others, particularly as the reckless moves proposed are likely to cause a serious public nuisance.
There is no such thing as a perfect model when it comes to election arrangements.
However, I believe a model that can weave together the most widely accepted ideas and everyone’s key concerns through the dynamic process of consensus building is a good one.
I am gravely concerned about the obstacles to our political reform process and how society might split further if those members of the Occupy Central movement remain stubbornly resistant to any other option and insist that their proposal is the only viable and acceptable one.
Hong Kong is now definitely at the crossroads in its constitutional development, and it is my sincere hope that all stakeholders can come to the negotiating table and show good faith in finding common ground under the framework of the Basic Law.